~ Nickel allergy is very common and causes a rash after contact.
~ Systemic reactions can occur with foods higher in nickel, causing gastrointestinal issues, headaches, and eczema.
~ Genes play a role in susceptibility to nickel allergy.
~ A couple of natural supplements may help with reactions.
Members will see their genotype report below, plus additional solutions in the Lifehacks section. Consider joining today.
Nickel Allergies: Genetics, Symptoms, Foods
However, nickel allergies can go beyond just getting a rash from your watch or bracelet. A systemic or internal response to certain foods that contain nickel is also possible.
What is a nickel allergy?
While genetic susceptibility plays a role (covered in the genotype report below), nickel allergy is caused by exposure to nickel, often for a long period of time.
Nickel can be found in:[ref]
- fashion jewelry
- watches or fitness trackers
- clothing decorations or fasteners
- medical devices, such as orthopedics
- bathroom fixtures
- mobile phones
- keys, coins
Non-workplace contacts like piercing the ear with a regular needle and wearing fashion jewelry are more likely to cause sensitization in women.[ref]
Sweat can leach the nickel from metal alloys, such as stainless steel. Skin piercings and other nickel-containing exposures can cause those who are vulnerable to develop nickel sensitivity.[ref]
Additionally, nickel is a common component in many orthodontic materials, and nickel allergy is common in people with tongue or lip piercings.[ref]
Symptoms of nickel allergies: Skin Rash
Classic symptoms of nickel sensitivity include an itchy rash where your skin contacts the nickel. This can be termed eczema or contact dermatitis. Other skin reactions can include vitiligo-like lesions, small raised bumps that form a ring, small blister clusters, cracked skin, and even vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels).[ref]
Systemic nickel allergy syndrome (SNAS):
Systemic symptoms of nickel allergy can include respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological symptoms from eating foods that contain nickel (or an implanted device that contains nickel).[ref]
For example, someone with a nickel allergy may end up with nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and fatigue. Neurological symptoms include headaches and brain fog.[ref]
A mouth sore called oral lichenoid lesions is linked to higher-than-normal concentrations of nickel.[ref]
Foods to avoid because they cross-react with Nickel Allergies
Nickel is found in trace amounts in the soils, and plants can take up nickel through their roots. This means that plants can contain nickel, which can then cause systemic nickel allergy syndrome symptoms.
On average, we consume 300-600 μg of nickel per day. For someone very sensitive to nickel, the top end of this range could cause symptoms such as eczema.[ref]
If you have a nickel allergy, you may also be sensitive to certain foods that contain nickel or other metals that cross-react with nickel.[ref][ref] Some of the foods that can cross-react with nickel allergies include:[ref][ref]
- Coffee, instant
- Tea, instant
- Whole grains
These foods contain varying levels of nickel, and some people with nickel allergies may not experience any symptoms from eating them. However, for some people, consuming these foods can trigger a reaction similar to nickel allergy symptoms, such as a rash or itching in the mouth, throat, or skin.
Response to nickel:
So what happens when soluble nickel is taken into a cell? Nickel causes the cell to increase inflammation and oxidative stress. This can lead to cell death at higher levels. The Nrf2 pathway is essential in the response to oxidative stress, and researchers have found that Nrf2 is upregulated with nickel exposure.[ref]
Another study looked at inflammation over the course of three days after exposure using skin biopsies in nickel allergy patients. The researchers found that natural killer cells are upregulated, and memory T cells are activated. The response was not immediate and built over a couple of days.[ref]
Nickel Allergy Genotype Report:
Lifehacks: Natural Treatments for Nickel Allergy
First and foremost – avoid contact with nickel-containing items such as earrings, piercings, watches, and jewelry.
If you wear glasses, make sure they don’t contain nickel in any parts against your skin. If your phone is metal, use a plastic or silicone case.
Nickel test kits are available to see if your cookware or jewelry contains nickel.
The rest of this article is for Genetic Lifehacks members only. Consider joining today to see the rest of this article.
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Mast cells: Mast cell activation syndrome, genetics, and solutions
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Nrf2 Pathway: Increasing the body’s ability to get rid of toxins
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